As the world of social explodes and agencies and marketers get on the social treadmill one of the issues that rears its head very quickly is how do I get all these platforms and systems to talk to each other. For agencies and marketers data integration is as far from their experience as we at VL sewing ladies dresses. Most have no clue, so the manual keyboard pounding goes on. Data gets lost or is incorrectly entered and the whole purpose of marketing automation is weakened by poor data. This is where good solid integration comes into play. So if you are an agency or marketer juggling multiple platforms that need to talk to each other this article is for you.
At VL we were very early adopters of the Hubspot inbound marketing platform. Three years ago we decided we needed to be doing social and we needed to be doing inbound marketing in a big way. Now, Hubspot is not a CRM and in fact most good inbound platforms and most marketing automation platforms are not very good at CRM. They also have no direct links to ERPs and other on premise applications unless someone has built an adaptor. The problem with adaptors is that they usually can’t be customized and they may not move all the data you require. The obvious ones (SalesForce to Marketo for example) are there in most cases, but not always.
Internally at VL we use Goldmine from Frontrange as our CRM and have done for years. Our challenge was how do we get data up to Hubspot from Goldmine to use in our marketing campaigns. Well it was pretty easy, Hubspot has an API, it’s well documented. Goldmine on the other hand has an interface but it was inadequate for what we wanted to do. So rather than trying to develop some complicated programme we went straight to the Goldmine MS SQL server tables and pulled out the data we needed. We translated that data into the JSON file need for Hubspot and posted it using the web services based API. The process is automated using ECS Server and Delta; runs on an hourly basis and changes we make in our CRM are reflected almost immediately in Hubspot. Missing data gets flagged and a report is sent to an administrator indicating the data that is missing or needs correcting before the record can be uploaded to Hubspot. The process runs in the background with no human intervention, it’s slick and in the process we have eliminated the data entry issues; re-entering data into Hubspot. We also write data back to our CRM from Hubspot.
Another integration we did for a customer was to update order information coming from a Big Commerce shopping cart web store to an Infusionsoft CRM instance. In this case, we update existing customer order information in Infusionsoft which in turn triggers a round of emails and marketing related automation out to customers. If the client doesn’t exist in Infusionsoft we create the client entries. This integration has allowed our customer to initiate some very targeted marketing because they are no longer worried about getting data from their Big Commerce web store up to Infusionsoft.
So if you are an agency or marketer looking for integration here is a list of things to look for. Do the applications you are using have an API? What data can you extract from one platform and what data can be uploaded to the other and vice versa? Do you need to supplement data from other applications like ZoomInfo or LinkedIn ? Do you need to go out to other cloud services to cleanse data – services such as Service Objects which provide for address validation? Finally what sort of data volumes are we looking at? In our experience where the data records top out at about 25 discrete entries that’s the time people need to be looking at integration.
Interested in learning more? Take a read of our eBooks on data integration we have a number of them. We also have videos on our YouTube channel.